Laila Ali's Guilt-Free Spaghetti and Meatballs

Finally — spaghetti and meatball recipe with nutritional benefits that tastes great! The flaxseed meal provides fiber and heart-healthy omega-3s while the dried dulse seaweed flakes give the savory flavor of bacon without the extra calories!

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2 lbs Ground beef (turkey, or lamb or a combination of beef and lamb)
2 tbsp Dried dulse seaweed flakes
2 tbsp Golden flaxseed meal
1 tbsp Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley ( optional )
2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 tsp Garlic powder
2 tsp Onion powder
3 tsp Sea salt
1/4 tsp Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 Medium onion (chopped)
2 Garlic cloves (chopped)
1 tsp Dried oregano
1 Large carrot (finely chopped)
2 (28 oz) Cans diced tomatoes
1 tbsp Unrefined brown sugar (optional)
Cooked whole grain or gluten-free spaghetti
Red pepper flakes (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

To make the sauce:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.

Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes, until softened and starting to color. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes, until softened. Add the oregano, 1 tsp Italian seasoning, and 1 1/2 tsp salt and cook for about 30 seconds, until aromatic.

Stir in the carrot and cook for 2 minutes to coat it in the spices and start to soften.

Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer, stirring to release any of the delicious brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.

Uncover the pan and taste the sauce. Add a little salt if needed and some brown sugar if the sauce calls for a little sweetness.

Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce directly in the pan until smooth (for a silky-smooth sauce — especially for kids who would otherwise veto veggies — transfer the sauce in batches to a standing blender and blend until smooth, then return the sauce to the pan.

Cook for up to 20 minutes more (the flavors will continue to develop) and set aside.

To make the meatballs:

In a large bowl, combine the ground meat, dulse, flaxseed meal, parsley (if using), 1 tsp Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt, and black pepper

Wearing disposable gloves or using clean hands, mix very well to incorporate all of the ingredients.

Form the mixture into about 24 equal-size balls measuring about 1 1/2-inches each.

Place them on a plate as they are formed and set aside.

In a large wide saute pan (10 to 12 inches wide) rather than a saucepan (so the meatballs will easily fit without crowding), bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, gently add the meatballs to the sauce and lightly stir so the meatballs get coated in the sauce.

Return to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.

Serve the meatballs and the sauce over spaghetti, with or without cheese and red pepper flakes sprinkled on top.

**Note: Calorie count only reflects the meatballs and sauce. Check the nutrition label on the pasta of your choosing for additional calories.